Monday, June 27, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey as a way to share what you have read and/or reviewed in the past week. It's also a terrific way to find out what other people are reading.

Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers have given this meme a children's literature focus: picture books, middle grade novels, etc. They "encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting the other bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.


This has been a week of just kicking back and enjoying summer! I love having time to stay up late and watch the Cleveland Cavs win their first championship ever, trying new recipes that I'm usually too busy for during the school year, watching our community's fireworks show and of course, READING!
Hopefully you've had a chance to slow down a bit and enjoy your summer as well! 
Here's what I've been reading this past week:
Middle Grade Novels/Chapter Books

Because The Crossover was very popular in my classroom, I very enthusiastically purchased this novel-in-verse. Booked is just as good, maybe even better! It has something good for everyone - kids and grownups.

Before I even started reading it, the cover had me hooked. A darkly shadowed photo of a soccer player about to kick a ball. The soccer ball is reminiscent of the basketball on the cover of The Crossover - the ball is actually made up of words from the book. Underneath the dust jacket, the front and back covers are printed with the black and white design pattern of a soccer ball.

I especially love that all readers will be able to recognize themselves in this novel: reluctant readers who would rather do just about anything else except read a book, grownups who will persist and insist that kids work hard and do their best, and people from all types of families.

This book has lots of treats for book nerds as well! Mr. MacDonald, the rapping librarian with a great sense of humor, is awesome! He always has a smile and a great book for Nicholas (the main character) to read!

And also, those that pick up this book to read about soccer won't be disappointed! The action on the soccer field is exciting, even for those who aren't necessarily big sports fans.
This book was awesome! I loved it, but it was definitely more emotional than I expected it to be. The author has a terrific narrative style that brings the reader right into the story from the very first page. I loved the character development, especially since the main character is a robot! I am really looking forward to sharing this with my students! I think we could have great discussions about what life truly is, how friendship and helping others played an important part in Roz's ability to adapt to her surroundings and survive, and the role robots and technology should play in our world.
This is a fun book for middle grade kids, sort of a beginner's chapter book. The story is told from the perspective of the family dog. Spunky loves his family dearly, even though they don't understand him. He shares all of his doggy-wisdom with them, and all they ever hear is "Yerf!"

The family decides that Spunky needs a playmate, and so they all go down to the local animal shelter and come home with...a cat. Fiona turns Spunky's life upside down. It's fun to read all of the adventures these two have in the house - in places like The Eating Room, The Lie-Around Room, and the White Pond Room (where Fiona falls into the tallest White Pond and becomes trapped).

The language and the messages are adorable. Here's one of my favorites: "A Dog's way is not a cat's way. A Dog's way is to be loyal, make promises, and keep them. A cat's way is to never promise anything to anybody. A cat's way is to live continually considering and reconsidering its pleasures - so when it pounces on them, it never misses."

This book would work well in a study of point-of-view, along with books like Fenway and Hattie by Victoria Coe.
Picture Books
This is a nice rhyming picture book that would be great as a bedtime story. As the day is winding down and the moon starts to rise, all the animals are getting ready for bed. The soft palette illustrations by Tomie de Paola are terrific, but I'm not sure young readers will appreciate the mime Pierrot.  
Young readers will have lots of fun playing along with the brother and sister in this cute picture book. It's a cold night under a pale moon and these intrepid children go exploring in a dark, dark cave. This would be a great way to talk about making predictions as readers try to guess what they'll find inside this cave. The illustrations were rendered in watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, and ink and assembled digitally.  
This picture book is a fun twist on the classic fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. I love that the story has tough girl chickens fighting Ninja-style to save their parents from being eaten by a fox. The colorful, action-packed illustrations are perfect for this story. I'm sure this book would be a big hit in my classroom library!
I really liked this picture book that tells the story of a royal family that includes seven princesses. The girls got along wonderfully and did everything together. One day they got into a big fight, and things changed dramatically. The story has a great message for young readers about getting along together. The illustrations are very colorful and detailed and simply beautiful. Fans of princess stories will enjoy this book.
What a cute picture book that reminds us that things could always be worse. Barnacle is sooooo bored! Day in and day out are always the same. He envies the freedom and fun that he imagines the polka dot fish must enjoy. Something happens that makes him rethink is boredom complaint!  
This is a cute picture book about a boy who desperately wants to have a beard. Everyone around has a beard, and most importantly, so does his dad.

This is a lovely picture book that takes readers on a walk on a beautiful day. As you take this walk on Bird Hill, not only do you see the things mentioned in the rhyming text, you see exquisite details painted into the illustrations: sailboats out on the water, families picnicking and playing together, all sorts of animals, etc. I find myself staring at these pictures, wishing I could climb into the book. The last page tells more about The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and how you can help them help birds.
This is a nice story with a good message for young readers. Raccoon has always been very good at everything thing he does. He loves being first at everything, and so he works very hard to be the fastest and the smartest. When a fox moves into the forest who's better and faster than Raccoon, he doesn't want to play with the other animals any more. Kids will enjoy reading to find out what happens when one of Raccoon's friends needs help.
This is an adorable picture book about a little boy, Sam, and his best friend and favorite stuffed animal, Jump. Sam takes Jump everywhere and they do everything together. One day at the beach, Sam makes a new friend, Thomas. After a day of fun, Sam goes home and, to his horror, realizes that he's left Jump at the beach. Anyone who has ever lost a beloved toy will be able to relate to the sadness Sam experiences. The illustrations, which were done in watercolor and pencil, are just gorgeous. I absolutely love the paintings of the ocean and beach!
What a wonderful picture book to inspire creativity and imagination! The little girl in this story makes the best dollhouse out of a box: she's painted bricks on the outside of it, divided the inside into rooms and made wallpaper with her markers. She's made a TV, a rug, and a stove. The family has a paper cup elevator and a pool on the rooftop. When she goes to Sophie's house and plays with her "perfect" dollhouse, it's not nearly as much fun. Wait until Sophie comes to visit! I want to come and play with this dollhouse!

This book reminds me of when I used to play with my Barbie dolls as a kid. I collected odd assortments of stuff from garage sales and around the house. Usually the store-bought stuff got broken right away!

I would love to get my own copy of this book for my classroom library! Who knows what kind of writing or artwork this story might inspire?!
This picture book is a beautiful celebration of all immigrants through the history of our country. This looks like a good book to have in the classroom and at home during this election year, as there is a lot of talk about who should be able to come to our country and who shouldn't.  
This awesome nonfiction picture book would be a great starting point for discussions about what "going green" and sustainability mean. The author uses a kid friendly narrative style to tell about a small Kansas down that was devastated by a tornado. In the effort to rebuild, citizens and leaders decided to build a "green city." The book presents fascinating information and a list of resources for further research. I definitely want to get my own copy of this for my classroom library.
This is a very interesting and creative picture book, although I wouldn't show it to very young or sensitive readers. Samira's teacher shows the students a skeleton and tells them that everyone has one. This freaks Samira out as she really starts seeing all the people around her has walking, talking skeletons. The illustrations were created using pencil drawings on paper, and then digitally colored and enhanced.  
This is a terrific picture book that I need to share with my students at the beginning of the year. It's got a great message about how listening to rumors only leads to misunderstandings. The little girl in the story hears a rumor about something her best friend said about her that wasn't very nice. Instead of talking to her friend about it, she gets angry and gives him the silent treatment. The 4th and 5th graders I teach are so into spreading rumors about each other and not talking about their misunderstandings. I think this book would be a good way to start a conversation about conflict resolution and appropriate ways to solve misunderstandings.
When I first brought this book home from the library, it appeared as though some naughty person had defaced it. But then when I read it, "Alex" made some awesome and hilarious changes. Alex took a nice picture book about a surprise birthday party for a bunny rabbit, and made it into an action-packed adventure with a supervillian and his enemies in the forest. The "changes" might be a fun way to talk about revising a piece of writing. I would love to get my own copy to share with my students.
This compilation of fairy tales include a good variety that includes " a lot of Grimm tales, a majority of well-known stories, a good sampling of non-European traditions, and a balance of boy and girl heroes." These stories were turned over to a group of popular cartoonists to come up with this volume. I'm sure this book would be very popular in my classroom!
This is a very creative mix of fractured fairy tale and writing mentor text that I think would be a fun addition to my classroom library. Little Red is a pencil in Pencil School and she has been given an assignment to write a story. She travels through the pages of this school, dealing with the perils and pitfalls of story-writing: overuse of verbs and adjectives, run-on sentences, and straying off the story path. Then she has to face the biggest danger of all: the Wolf 3000 pencil sharpener. The story is very clever, but I think in the attempt to make an allegory of the writing process that includes lots of grammar and usage elements, the book might be a bit confusing for elementary students.
This picture book is hilarious! The authors imagine a crazy conversation between Yankee Doodle and his pony as an explanation for how the famous song came about. The pictures along with the text will have readers of all ages smiling. I think it would be fun to use this as an opportunity for students to imagine the origins of other traditional stories and songs.
This is a cute picture book that has a great message about saving and sharing. Lola never saves anything: she eats her lunch before they even leave for the zoo, she uses up all the film in her camera right away, and she spends all of her pocket money so she can't afford the toy she wants to purchase. She has a really sweet older brother that helps her learn how to save.
This is a fun rhyming story that teaches about fractions. Fractions are a difficult concept for many of my students. This book with a cute story about Miss Bloom and her Strawberry Inn and terrific illustrations would be a great one to share at school.
This adorable story was Deborah Freedman's picture book debut and it's an awesome way to spark creativity and imagination in young readers. Emma draws a very detailed picture of Princess Aurora sleeping and waiting for true love's kiss. Her younger sister, Lucie draws a big picture of a cat, which Emma says doesn't look anything like a cat and that she should make triangle ears for it. Lucie gets angry and scribbles all over Emma's princess drawing. While Emma is off to tell on her, some magical happens that will captivate all readers. According to the title page, the illustrations were created using pencil with watercolors, Magic Markers, and digital coloring. This would be a great book to have in my classroom library!
This is a fun picture book that is a terrific play on The Night Before Christmas. This family of four is packing everything into the car for their summer vacation. Young readers will have a great time finding out if anything gets left behind!




  1. Thank you for the recommendations on Booked and The Wild Robot. I was peeking at both at an indie book store last week. I also appreciate your work with the picture books. This summer I'm trying to read a stack a week. I've bookmarked this post for later reference. Thanks!

  2. Spunky looks like one I could read to my dog, and the dollhouse one... I was such a Rumer Godden fan when I was younger and always coveted doll houses. I'm getting more students who want to read about soccer, so Booked will be popular.

  3. Wow! What a great stack of picture books. As a new chicken owner, I must find Ninja Chicks. I hope my girls are half that brave.

  4. Wow impressive reading this week. We have Jennifer K. Mann coming back to our store for Sam and Jump. She's great!

  5. Wow, lots of great picture books. Some I know & some I've noted! I like what you shared about "What James Said" Jana. It sounds like a great book to start a good conversation. Thanks for reminding about The Wild Robot-still need to read it!

  6. Oh wow, where to even start? The books on this list I've read, I loved. The books I haven't, I can't wait to pick up! We turned Battle Bunny into a library activity, where the kids reworked discarded library books into new creations - lots of fun!

  7. I just finished On Bird Hill a few minutes ago and really enjoyed it.

    I love Battle Bunny. I buy a bunch of old Little Golden Books from the used bookstore and offer my students extra credit if they want to Battle Bunny their own book. Many discover that it's a lot harder than it looks! (Which is why it's extra credit)

  8. Yowza! Where to start? I loved Booked and Battle Bunny. I got Battle Bunny on inter-library loan and the librarian actually thought it had been vandalized. Crankee Doodle is a favorite read aloud. We Came to America seems very timely.

  9. Your list was never ending! I can't wait to share some of these titles with my new class - like Battle Bunny and the Fairy Tale Comics. Impressive reading this week!

  10. I finished Booked recently too. I enjoyed it, but I think The Crossover is better. I in part because of the family dynamics and the multiple levels of meaning the title reflected. You have a good list of picture books for me to check out. Thanks. :)

  11. I love that Green City was inspired by such recent headlines, and the author's note about his personal connection to the story was particularly moving.
    And how can you go wrong with Battle Bunny?